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Assessing Inequalities in School Safety: Roles and Recommendations for Mental Health Care Practitioners

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: Online Dated: July 2020
Date Published
July 2020

Using a person-in-environment perspective to guide inquiry into disparities in school safety, the current study examined data from students in seven high schools across one large, urban school district situated within an inner-city setting.


Disproportionality in exposure to school safety strategies in the United States has received increasing attention across the literature. These inequalities are an important topic for administrators and educators to consider when addressing school safety needs, since they have implications for how student behavior is processed. Although research has extensively examined inequalities in exposure to school safety strategies using nationally representative, school-level data, there is limited quantitative evidence regarding the extent to which students of different races/ethnicities experience school security measures differently when they are situated within the same school. In the current study, complex modeling was used to model fixed effects with consideration of the clustering of students within schools, thus controlling for shared variability of students within schools. Controlling for gender, socioeconomic status, performance, behavior, and attendance, results identified inequalities in engagement with security measures by race and ethnicity. Findings call for researchers and practitioners to regularly assess the way students interact with the safety strategies in their school. Moreover, implications for addressing this phenomenon using an implicit bias framework to promote cultural inclusivity are discussed, and recommendations for educators and administrators are provided. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: July 1, 2020